Oven-Roasted Lechon de Leche a la Marketman


Consider this my early holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve/Day) present to all of marketmanila.com’s readers across the globe. If you have steadfastly held the view that the only way for you to place a lechon on your holiday table is to order it from a commercial purveyor, or hire a lechonero to do one in your backyard, let me just go ahead and BURST THAT BUBBLE RIGHT NOW. Thousands of readers abroad have read my dozens of posts on lechon and I have received hundreds of comments or emails from around the world about Pinoys pining for lechon, and how they miss home so much around the holidays, and in particular, they want that lechon on their groaning holiday table. Well, you no longer have an excuse… This Christmas, whether you are in Dublin or Zurich, Oslo or Toronto, Dallas or New York, you too, can have a pretty decent lechon at home! You may be rolling your eyes just now, but trust me when I say this is just slightly more complicated that stuffing and roasting a turkey. Really. And while I struggled with the thought of saving this recipe for the mythical Marketman cookbook, the urge to share overwhelms… Surprise your family, friends and relatives; this year, replace your roast beef, roast turkey or goose with an oven roasted lechon de leche…


First, you need a cleaned roast suckling pig. Surprisingly, many specialty butchers can arrange this for you. In North America, you can order them for delivery apparently. So start with a roughly 9-10 pound cleaned suckling pig. Make sure it is fully defrosted. Wash it inside and out. Carefully dry with paper towels.


For this fusion lechon version that I made at home. I decided to use a stuffing of slow roasted garlic (three bulbs worth) and three slow-roasted onions. Salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, pureed truffles and olive oil.


The garlic was shmeared onto the walls of the cavity along with the roasted onions.


Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme added a nice aroma to the meat. Sew up the cavity with kitchen twine. Desperate because I couldn’t find a needle at home, I even thought to use alligator clips (from my office desk) to close the stomach! But I eventually found a needle.


Baste the entire skin surface of the pig with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and place in a pre-heated 400F oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I basted with unsalted butter. Reduce heat to 375F. Cover tail and ears with foil if they are browning too fast. Then baste again after 30 minutes more. Then I left the lechon in the oven for a further hour, for a total cooking time of 2.5 hours. Cooking time will vary based on the size of your pig, the amount of stuffing you use, and the temperature of your oven. This is best done in a convection oven (with a fan) but I don’t have such an oven in Manila, so the pig in this photo is done in a typical large La Germania home oven.


You need a bit of muscle to remove and baste the pig. That’s really the toughest part of the whole recipe.


So listen to Marketman. The results were great for such minimal effort. Okay, so it wasn’t a Zubuchon :) and it wasn’t as good as a charcoal roasted version. But it was, convenience considered, pretty darned good. The skin was crisp and the meat juicy. Guests went quiet when they were eating, always a good sign. A more detailed recipe with more native stuffings will be written up for the mythical cookbook. But I encourage you all to give this a try this holiday season. Happy Holidays!


84 Responses

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, MM! I will give this a try, definitely. But, first must find someone who can get me suckling pig that will fit my oven. You are just the best. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe, MM. That is so generous and unselfish of you. I have always wanted to try this in my own kitchen. Thanks to you, now I know it can be done well. Now to look for a lechon de leche supplier… any sources in Vancouver that you know of betty q?

  3. MM,

    I was just about to email you to inquire about this recipe. I was thinking of using my oven but I was afraid that it would turn out more like a crispy pata. I am really excited to try this recipe.

    Thanks for being a Mind-reader and a good cook!


  4. oh yes, MM, this is a wonderful gift to those who do not have ready access to lechon. you showed everyone that it can be done, and more importantly, how to do it.

    i remember several years ago Magnolia had a whole ready-to-bake lechon de leche in most supermarket freezers. i guess it didn’t do very well since more people here have access to lechon than to ovens.

  5. My friend cooks a pata this way in the oven. Except that he simmered it first in water with spices and aromatics. Then he placed it on a rack, with tray under, of course and in medium heat, roasted it for about 1-1.5 hours. The skin was smooth and crunchy, not bubbly. And the oil that dripped doesn’t make you feel as guilty as eating fried pata. Good enough for home away from home.

  6. Yup, CWID! …thought you’d never ask! …go to Granville Island. inside the market, there is a meat shop owned by Pinoy Armando. His shop is near the exit going toward the plaza overlooking the water. Ask for Celine ( my niece and tell her you’re a dear friend of Tita Tats). Then ask her to ask her FIL to get you a suckling pig. While you are there, might as well try their chicken longganisa…very lean and yummy! But you need to tell him that it has to fit in a regular oven so you might want to give him length measurements. Now for the tray….go to Chinatown on Pender between Main and Gore. There are a least 2 stores along Pender that sells kitchenware (I think liquidation inventory). They have trays …all shapes and sizes…measure again your oven when you go there…before you buy and pay for the tray…ask them what their policy is re: returns (if you need to exchange it!)

    I know that Armando can get it for you. Other sources you might want to try is Supreme Meats on Ist Ave and Kitchener ( Burnaby). Most PInoys order their pig for their lechn from Dollar Meats on Pender. You have to specify the WEIGHT of the suckling you want.

    Hope this helps and if you happen to do this…I am a phone call awaay….will bring the dessert and merienda!

  7. Fried- neurons and cwid: if you have a household oven, you might want to put piglet on a diagonal. A friend of mine did this years ago using her industrial convection oven…she placed piglet on a diagonal. I think MM has a LARGE Germania…6 burner?

    If you were to roast piglet on a diagonal, CWID…tray on bottom rack and piglet right on the rack-diagonal.

  8. yehey! thanks a lot, MM. will definitely give this a try. i happen to have suckling pigs in the farm right now..:) and yes, thanks mam bettyq for the “diagonal” suggestion, was wondering how one would fit in my oven.

  9. Hi betty-q/MM… my range at home has twin ovens, a big one and a small one. I just checked the manufacturer website and it says the interior of the big oven is 24″ wide by 17″ deep by 18 5/8″ high. Please tell me piglet will fit. I so want to try this out!

  10. fried neurons, our oven is 30 inches wide from wall to wall. But I think the pig used up about 24-25 inches. So I think you are cutting it close, but could possibly make it! get a suckling pig that is the smallest possible size, say 8-9 pounds if possible (dressed weight) :) kakusina, 3 heads=bulbs yes. As opposed to cloves. sasha, you could be waiting a year or more, I understand it takes a LONG time to do one… Isa, they are probably red and sore because the nails have been removed! :)

  11. bettyQ, you are absolutely right about the measurements and the appropriate tray. I could have used the rotisserie rod in my sister’s La Germania oven when I did the lechon last New Year but my piggy was just an inch or two too long and I did not want to crunch the torso. I ended up just laying the piggy on the rack and placing the catch tray in the lowest rack for convection roast to work better.

    I based my seasonings on MM’s old posts and also seasoned under the skin.
    MM, Is that what you meant by coating the back of the ribs [or under the skin…same geography? ] with garlic and onion mash? I fanned the skin to dry ( like I would for Peking duck which I haven’t done in ages….such a production) thinking it would make the skin crisper but looks like MM did not have to do that, judging from the beautiful perfectly roasted skin. Turned out real nice.

  12. Yum-o! I remember a few years back in London, one of our Pinoy officemates served lechon na ulo (only the head of a full grown pig). It was amazing! I think he used lemongrass bought from one of the Asian store.

  13. haha, trust Marketman to think up of sharing this wonderful recipe! By the way, would using butter to baste the piglet do? or i guess that would not taste as lechon-ey as it’s supposed to be? thanks again! :)

  14. We oven bake cochinillo on a regular basis as part of our business. I must add that it’s quite important to use the correct variety of pig. Native or native hybrids yield the best results. We tried roasting 7kg commercial pigs, and even though they were cheaper, the results were not good enough for us.

    Native suckling pigs cost around 360 per kg here in Manila, while the commercial kind runs to around 250 per kg last time I checked. I am presuming that the pig used above was a native one.

  15. Darn it MM…. now I really need to find that suckling pig. Been wanting to oven roast one for a loooooooooonnnnnnng, loooooooonnnnnnngg time and you just pushed me to look harder for that darn pig! It will definitely be in one of our parties soon and will share it with you when and if I get there!

    Thanks for the yummy and salivating post of lechon…just in time to crave for one when Thanksgiving is just rolling in. Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!

  16. Natie, Mari….best bet is to know the farmer. Go on Craigslist. Find a local farmer. Get in touch. If you are planning to do this in a few months or even in the summer for your picnics, ask him/her when the mama pig will have her piglets! You can even ask questions like what they feed their piggies.

    Next option, go ask your neighbourhood butcher if he/she can get you a suckling pig. Again…specify the weight you would like!

    CWID: there is a local pig farmer in Abbotsford. I lost his phone number but if you post a WANT AD on Vancouver Craigslist, I am sure you will get a response…this way, you go directly to the source!

  17. Once again thank you MM! I will put in an order no with my butcher to see if a baby pig is possible for Christmas. Unfortunately the babies are usually not around this time of year (too cold) but we do have truffles in season. If all else fails I will do a side of older pig. Our extended family will be gathering around at home on the French Atlantic coast for the holidays (oysters, crabs and other sea beasts are now at their best).
    Dear readers, our place is available for rent by the week, is registered with the local office of tourism and rated 3 stars. We have had happy guests from everywhere, Americans, New Zealanders, all sorts of Europeans etc but never yet any Pinoys though we are Pinoy-owned!

  18. Great!!! Thanks for sharing this MM. Can’t wait to do this for Christmas, only I have yet to find where to get the suckling pig over our area. Advance Merry Christmas everyone!

  19. Oh Yikes… they don’t sell small pigs here in my area…the farm here said their smallest is 15-20 lbs. I might have to drive more than 2 hours far to find some other farm who might have piglet…Wish me luck. I have been wanting to try lechon in my huge gas/charcoal grill.

  20. I will sure try this one for our xmas feast, too late to look for suckling pig for thanksgiving. MM or Betty Q, what about the liver sauce, do you have a recipe to share? We Bulakenos cannot eat lechon without the sauce.

  21. will definitely try this for Christmas!! will contact local roast duck maker and see if she can get me suckling pig. tulo-laway talaga!

  22. Thanks for the info, MM. Yeah, 24″ to 25″ would definitely be pushing it, unless I can somehow lay piglet out diagonally as betty-q suggested.

    My next order of business is to find a butcher that sells suckling pigs…

    BTW, I forgot to tell you that, since I moved into my current house, my stove is pretty much a twin of the one you have in Batangas. Only instead of the grill, I have a griddle. And instead of Viking, I have Wolf. But for overall they’re pratcically identical.

  23. Thanks for the article, MM.
    I remember when I was young, one could order Spanish oven- baked cochinillo privately from Viaplana in Manila. The main difference was that local lechon has skin which stayed crispy, but Viaplana’s cochinillo had skin which stayed crispy only on the day. Most of the time we preferred the local lechon.

  24. Thanks MM for this. Now we are changing our Christmas menu from Lobsters to suckling pig. – am thinking of using lemong grass instead of rosemary to give it a pinoy/asian flavour.

  25. Big grin from here, MM. i could just feel the energy and excitement of everyone wanting to try this at home. You have got everyone planning big, ooops, pig pala.

  26. MM they say 3rd time is a charm. Since I found your blog I have cooked 2 lechons within a 30 day time period. So this coming Thanksgiving will be my third try. I have to place an order with the the Half Moon Bay Bar None Ranch for their smallest pig. Maybe I should ask for a newborn to fit the 10 pound profile you are suggesting. Then, I will just incorporate all the tips from the Lechon Chronicles and maybe I can improve from the last two lechons. Thank you for your great ideas (i.e. making sure the pig is completely dry, fresh rosemary, truffles (all kinds))!

  27. Hi betty q, yes! I have heard of Armando from friends and have read about him in the community newspapers. I have also been to his store. I will definitely look him up. Your other suggested sources look like good possibilities too. I knew you were the right person to ask.

    I would love, love, love to meet you but i am just a sunday dinner cook. To have you over for dinner to try my home cooking is like inviting Nigella Lawson or MM and that is soooo intimidating. On my third successful try, i might have the courage to show off my dish.

    I have done lechon kawali in my oven and tried the “tusok-tusok” technique of MM and the skin does come out crispy and crunchy like chicharon. I could try this on the lechon de leche.

    On another dish, I want let you know, betty q, that I did the mango pudding using your recipe and it was an absolute success! Thank you for being so generous in sharing your knowledge.

    To MM, I hope you have not gotten tired of hearing this but here it is anyway — thanks for sharing your recipes and thank you for providing this forum for many foodies from across the globe to get together and develop a unique camaraderie.

  28. I knew it! We’ve been cooking our crispy pata in the oven (turbo broiler to be exact) which turns out fine every time. So I wondered. In the oven, one cooks roast duck, roast chicken, roast beef.. so logically, lechon should be possible. Thanks for this post, MM.

  29. MM, just another mention on the garage sale at 21 Lark, Greenmeadows, QC. My lola was an avid collector of assorted knickknacks who traveled much. She had exquisite taste in miniatures – thumb size replicas of mortar and pestle made of heavy matted steel. The neighbors gobbled up much of the best – there was a gentleman’s office desk made from good wood with matching leather chair to boot of the type John Rockefeller used to have at the turn of the century. Exquisite paperweights with intricate detail. Coat and tie furniture for gentlemen. Ceramic ware used for chicken curries.Do note that we only open the house on weekends. Now we will be selling off the appliances. Though there may be some items of value still available…It will be open this weekend, Nov 20 Saturday. Salamat po.

  30. Anonymous Paul: the rotisserie is not as thick as a bamboo pole that when it is pushed through the piglet’s mouth, the snout has to be tied to it with a thick twine and the legs too extended. therefore your piglet has to be really tiny. Believe me when I say…not worth it using a rotisserie in the oven for this …maybe if you have one of those really huge and long barbecue, it will work….I KNOW it will work on the hhuuuuuuuge barbecue which is on my wishlist at the very top. I PURPOSELY had hubby recycle our barbecue just fo rthis reason. I would like to have that really long and huge barbecue! My brother has one of those and he uses it to make his lechon de leche every year…

    Yup, Connie C….barbecuing in winter runs in our family!

  31. HI MM,

    i am finally going to cebu this dec. i will surely try and bring home your zubuchon. do you have any resto in cebu that i shouldn’t miss? thanks much!!!

  32. I’m sure I can find a butcher for the pig, but I’m not sure if it will fit in my oven. . .dang!!!

    Thanksgiving dinner is a “contest” of sorts for me and my siblings. The person with the best dish wins and has bragging rights until next Thanksgiving. What to do? What to do?

  33. Angela…option: search around your area for a community center with large kitchen facilities. Sometimes they rent it for a reasonable price. Have you tried instead of stuffing…a savoury bread pudding …wild mushroom bread pudding always gets requests for the recipe wherever I bring it….go for the porcinis, chanterelles and morels as your wild mushrooms. You can bake them in ramekins for individual portions.

  34. choy, have you asked a good butcher in a large grocery or meatshop? Or your suki pork vendor in the market? We buy our lechon de leches from livestock markets/small purveyors, then feed them for a week or two before slaughtering them. I have frozen them and brought them to Manila and they taste pretty good when roasted in the oven.

  35. Years ago, I saw one in a chiller of Monterey, but last week they told me they’re not selling anymore. Anyway, I’ll check out the wet market. Thanks MM :)

  36. Angela…please google it. I used the one from Bon Appetit (1995, I think…luckily, it is still on the net…I used to make Banana Cream pie (which I tweaked to suit my taste…added choclateto make it 2 toned) that is totally out of this world….from1981 Bon Appetit (not anymore on the net I think)…..adjustments I made to suit my taste…used day old croissants (much cheaper and I freeze till I have enough to make this pudding), used part smoked applewood cheddar to give it a hint of a smokiness, a bit gruyere, fontina for the cheeses. Make sure your shallots or onions are caramelized. I sauteed the mushrooms separately in just garlic, a touch of chicken broth, salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Removed the mushrooms when wilted and reduced the liquid to almost syrupy and added the mushrooms back and mixed till all the mushrooms are glistening and coated with the syrupy goodness….a touch of oyster sauce does wonders too!…for the herbs, I don’t like too much sage…so omiited that and just used a touch of thyme, parsley. If you have herb de provence, add a pinch of it. If oyu are going to use ramekins, I would suggest making more than you need for I am positve they will ask you for more.

    it is also good served the next day …I usually make a lot of these and hope that I have some leftover for the next day!

  37. Two days away from Thanksgiving and praise God because I just got off the phone with Bar None Ranch out of Half Moon Bay and they have my 9 pound piggy ready for me to pick up. MM please….. do prepare a recipe for your magical lechon sauce to match this oven roasted piggy. I don’t feel like buying the commericialized Mang Tomas lechon sauce. I feel the need to make the sauce from scratch. Please….. I know you can experiment and come up with the magical sauce.

  38. bettyq, i never thought of bread pudding as anything but sweet, but you gave me a bright idea. will definitely do this tonight. i think it’s very versatile because you can make it italian (mushrooms, celery, parmesan, diced eggplant, etc.), greek ( olives, feta, peppers, etc.) or whatever, based on the stuff you put in, no? am thinking corn, oysters, shrimp, etc, etc….am excited! thanks for the tip, bettyq!

  39. Millet ….just don’t dice theeggplant…ROAST them first before you use it. I know you will use this….makesEXCELLENT BRUNCH dish. You can put this together the night before and bake the next morning if you have company sleepover…more importantly, that is why I use croissants, so the bread doesn’t get lost or becomereally mushy!…throw in any leftovers you have,,,,diced chicken, chorizo, fora Mediterranean flavour…Now, for theItalian one, call it Tuscan …. For the Greek one, I wouldsuggest Roasting or Grilling the red peppers….for thecorn, oysters, etc….call it Creole…

    Are you beyond excited, noww?

  40. Oh. my gulay, too, Millet…you got me going now!…and what are you doing on the computer at this time of day?!? I get my AHA moments while I am on the bathtub…OK…forget that, too much information, now…hahahaha!

    Here is another variation, I think will be equally good…you have chicken broth powder? If not, maybe a good chicken stock …half cream and half chicken stock…make a plain one and then make sort of a Hungarian Chicken Paprikash. Instead of Spatzle or pole nta, the Chicken Paprikash on top of this Savoury Bread Pudding will be awesome!

    Angela…don’t forget the gravy on top of the Wild Mushrrom Bread Pudding!

  41. Oh. my gulay, too, Millet…you got me going now!…and what are you doing on the computer at this time of day?!? I get my AHA moments while I am on the bathtub…OK…forget that, too much information, now…hahahaha!

    Here is another variation, I think will be equally good…you have chicken broth powder? If not, maybe a good chicken stock …half cream and half chicken stock…make a plain one and then make sort of a Hungarian Chicken Paprikash. Instead of Spatzle or pole nta, the Chicken Paprikash on top of this Savoury Bread Pudding will be awesome!

    Angela…don’t forget the gravy on top of the Wild Mushrrom Bread Pudding!

  42. Hi MarketMan, oven lechon seems a good idea, but most homes here in the Uk only have domestic oven, plus you will not be able to find any lechon de leche. Most people here think that it is cruel to kill a not fully grown pig. Would you be able to suggest where can I get one.

  43. nowandzenuk, this lechon WAS made in a home oven, albeit a fairly generously sized one. As for lechon de leche, I have no doubt they eat them in the U.K., you just have to find a supplier. Have you ever heard of Chef Fergus Henderson, who wrote the best-selling book “The Whole Beast” and whose restaurant(s) are well known for pork dishes of all sorts? If he cooks those kinds of dishes, a butcher somewhere in the U.K. will have suckling pigs. As for thinking it is cruel, the U.K. invented veal if I am not mistaken, or at least consumes a huge amount of it, so I don’t see how cruelty would be specific for pigs. Spring lamb are likewise best when babies…

  44. sir marketman,

    when is ur cookbook coming out? i hope your full blast lechon will be there for the people living abroad…


  46. Hi MM,

    I am just now commenting on this because:

    Were you able to read the column of Sandy Daza in Inquirer last 31 March 2011, Thursday? It was talking about a brick oven using charcoal. It is able to cook lechon as well. Have you checked it out?

    Actually I will also be trying out their high pressure burner. I think you would like to check this out if you have not already.


  47. Could someone help me find where I can purshase a 15lb suckling pig. I live in Raeford NC . Would like to find within 15 miles of Raeford. Thankyou.

  48. I think I will try lechon de leche if I can get the piglet from the whstlingtrain farm that bettyq referred. I know where it is, down south in Kent, bettyq. So will ask a friend to go with me there but first to email them if they have this size pig.

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